HUNDREDS OF thousands of people poured into the streets of Washington, D.C. today and in “sister marches” across the country and around the world to sound an alarm that women’s rights and human rights are under threat in Donald Trump’s presidency.
The focal point of the global day of protest is the Women’s March on Washington, where at least 250,000 demonstrators were taking to the streets in the hours before the march was set to get underway. “Sister marches” were also gathering steam in Boston, New York, Chicago, Michigan and Los Angeles.
And in a rolling expression of dissent around the world, marches were also held across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
The GroundTruth Project worked with a network of our reporting fellows in the U.S. and in several corners of the world to capture the day of global protest and hear the voices of those protesting. The first march was held at 11 a.m. local time in Australia and rolled from there through Asia and across the globe, time zone by time zone. Here are a few vignettes from our GroundTruth fellows:
By Nan Tin Htwe
YANGON, Myanmar — In this bustling city, dozens of people gathered under sunny skies to show their solidarity for the Women’s March on Washington and sister marches around the world.
About 70 women and men, as well as families with young kids, gathered at 11 a.m. local time for what was called a “Solidarity Picnic” at Maha Bandula Park in Yangon’s downtown, surrounded by a shining golden pagoda, church, mosque and colonial buildings.
In the former capital of Myanmar, which was recently liberated from decades of military regime, participants held signs that read, “Women of the world unite!” and “Hear our voice.” They also distributed stickers that read, “We will not be silent so that you can be comfortable” and “Men of quality do not fear equality,” as well as “Black lives matter,” “Climate change is real” and “Immigrants make America great.”
Blaire Davis, who serves as a humanitarian worker in Myanmar and is originally from Rochester, New York, said the event’s purpose was to show their voices for global solidarity.
“After the election, we didn’t know how to react. We didn’t face much effect as Donald Trump won, as we are living in Myanmar. So, we’ve been thinking how we can be more involved in the last two months. These are the voices for women’s solidarity. It’s about women bringing women together because women’s rights are human rights,” he said.
Barbara Mitchell, originally from Boston and working in Myanmar as a consultant, said she wants to be with women who share the same sentiment.
“I feel solidarity for women in the U.S. and all around the world. I’m really concerned about the direction that Trump will take us, the impact on women, poor and minorities all around the world, generally. Since I’m not in the U.S., I want to be with the women who share my feelings,” she said. Read more
By Laura Heaton
NAIROBI, Kenya — The dusty road leading into Karura Forest is busy with bikers, walkers and dogs on most Saturday mornings. But early today, a single protester stood out. “STOP Sexist Politicians,” read her sign.
She was soon joined by as many as 500 more who turned out for the “sister march” in the Kenyan capital, my reporting partner and I among them. The crowd was a diverse mix of Americans, Kenyans and sympathetic expats of other nationalities, united in concern about changes promised by President Donald Trump – and what those changes could mean for gender inequality, human rights and progressive policies globally.
“America was my political safe-haven,” said Kenyan-American activist Wanja Kariuki. “It wasn’t a perfect political system, but it was one I had learned to navigate as an agitator for immigrant rights and affordable care – a system that as an immigrant, I and millions around the world looked up to. We’ve lost that with the new administration.”
Kariuki left Kenya when she was 14 to join her older sister in the United States and attend high school. She splits her time between her two countries. But last summer and fall she said it was clear where she needed to be. Kariuki joined the Hillary Clinton campaign and was sent to the Pittsburgh outskirts, where she worked to mobilize voters. She came back to Kenya “heartbroken” just before Christmas.
“So I march! I march because the fights for equality we face here in Kenya strongly mirror those in America and both have adversaries – not advocates – in high levels of government,” Kariuki said.
While President Barack Obama was a favorite son of Kenya, President Trump has made no public comments about the country and few regarding the broader continent of Africa. For activists here, that might be for the better, given that his positions on a wide range of other topics tend to favor undoing the generally more progressive policies of the Obama years. Read more
LONDON – A crowd estimated at 100,000 people took to the streets in London to protest Trump’s inauguration, marching from the U.S. Embassy to Trafalgar Square.
Along the way, protesters talked about what the Trump presidency meant to them and why they were demonstrating.
Pepter Lunkuse, age 26, joined the march in support of women, gay rights, and anti-racism. “It’s a whole host of things,” she said.
“[Trump is] not the ideal candidate to be ruling a country that’s considered the superpower of the world,” Lunkuse added. “The next four years are going to be testing, to say the least.”
Sharmaine Lovegrove, 35, returned to London two years ago after living in Berlin.
“Since I got back […] I’ve been marching a lot,” she said. “Hate seems to be prevailing across the world.”
She added, “I don’t understand where this liberal inclusivity went wrong. We didn’t realize that so many people felt so marginalized, and that’s something we do need to address.” Read & hear more
LANSING, Mich. — As the fog lifted over Michigan’s capital this morning, thousands of people began pouring out of tour buses, cars and minivans onto the grass in front of the state Capitol building. The Women’s March on Lansing was one of more than 600 “sister marches” held across the country to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington, and an estimated 8,000 people turned out.
Married couple Jon and Marta Kermiet, both 66, held each other as they poked their heads above the crowd to hear the speaker. They’ve raised three boys and one was able to join them at the march, as another attended a march in Portland, Oregon.
“It feels like deja vu,” Marta Kermiet said. “We’re frequently finding ourselves at things like this and after raising children, you really have to pay attention to where the world is going.”
For 70-year-old Carolyn Dack Maki of Stevensville, Mich., the idea of marching for women’s rights in 2017 was frustrating. “It’s so insulting, we just gotta do something,” Dack Maki said. “Our rights are going to be gone – healthcare, women’s rights, equal pay, all if it. … This cannot be.”
RIO DE JANEIRO — A crowd of around 150 people, mostly Americans and Brazilians, marched through Rio’s Ipanema beachfront neighborhood Saturday, crying “Love Trumps Hate” to cheers of passersby.
Rio’s protestors included families, children and vacationers and expats, hailing from Brazil, the United States, Argentina, Russia, Venezuela and England. It was American book editor Diana Solomon’s first protest ever at age 31. “What America is supposed to be about is creating something together with people from all different places,” she said, alarmed at Donald Trump’s policies toward immigrants and refugees. “My family came to America fleeing pogroms.”
Brazilian psychologist Lilian Bosboom marched because “the climate is a global issue, and Trump is scaring the world with his ideas.” Bosboom participated in the Rio+20 climate conference here in 2012. “He and other leaders aren’t leading,” she said, “so the population needs to step in now.”
Rio’s protest was organized by Lee Weingast, a teacher and translator from New York who saw news of global “sister marches” online. Carrying a sign that said “Gender Justice = Racial Justice = Economic Ju$tice,” Weingast opened ceremonies encouraging protesters to “use this march as a jumping off point for real, very doable activism to come.”
Local newspaper and television outlets covered the march, which featured signs in English and Portuguese and a protester parading on stilts and covered in glitter in the style of Rio’s upcoming carnival. “Brazilians can teach the world the importance of good humor in a protest,” said Rio television presenter Mariana Cabral, as she carried an “Out With Trump” sign. Read more
By Mark Trecka
NEW YORK — Just after noon, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, thousands filled Grand Central Station. Although brimming with women and men and children, many of whom carried homemade signs decrying President Trump and celebrating the defense of women’s rights, the massive transportation hub was markedly quiet as the sun poured through the station’s three-story windows.
On her way to the exit, a young woman carrying a rainbow flag slipped and lost her balance, falling onto her back. Several other women of varying ages swiftly came to her aid, lifting her onto her feet. Laughing, she continued on her way.
The crowd was dense but serene as it flowed steadily out onto 42nd Street and merged with the crowds on the sidewalk and in the street. Drums and chants filled the air: “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” Barricades separated the marchers flowing northwest down 42nd from the rest of the crowds making their way in the opposite direction to the march’s starting point at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
Batala NYC, an all-female Brazilian drum troupe ignited spontaneous dancing in the crowds on both sides of the barricade, while a middle aged woman marched by holding up a handwritten sign that read, Kate Millett marching for women’s rights. Behind her, Millett herself, the renown American second-wave feminist writer and activist was ushered along in a wheelchair.
“Love trumps hate!” echoed another chant. Another could be heard intermittently throughout the afternoon, a call-and-response between female and male voices: “My body, my choice! Her body, her choice!” Although anger was palpable, humor seemed to define the day with signs like: I’m not ovary-acting, Made in ‘gina, Viva la vulva and You can’t combover misogyny, the last one featuring an ugly illustration of Trump’s hairpiece.
Without ceremony, New York Sen. Charles Schumer appeared, shaking the hands of marchers and moving swiftly through the crowd. Dressed in a black overcoat and open collared white shirt, Schumer beamed. With two fists in the air, he called out, “We’re going to win this fight for women’s rights!” A cheer spread through street. Women and men pushed infants in strollers and hoisted pre-teens onto their shoulders who in turn held signs aloft: Respect my existence or accept my resistance.
Undergirding the anger and humor was a ubiquitous sense of organization. At times, the organization was manifest, as when a volunteer in a bright yellow vest advised marchers approaching the end of the route that the area around Trump Tower was completely crowded. “March for a few more blocks,” she told the crowd, “but then please disperse. Those with small children, should consider heading out now.” Many appeared to follow her instructions although the streets remained teeming and the area around Trump Tower would remain completely flooded for hours to come.
Late in the afternoon, a chant erupted as a kind of afterthought, as though it occurred to someone somewhere in the crowd that they had been neglecting something: “Pence sucks too! Pence sucks too!” Two New York City police officers standing on the curb at the corner of 5th Avenue and 49th Street fought meagerly against their emerging grins. When at least one marcher acknowledged the smiles, one of the officers flashed a discreet thumbs-up in response.
At other times, the sense of organization was more implicit. Elderly marchers needing to take leave of the staggeringly dense crowds were routinely escorted out calmly, while anyone at all needing to cross the route of these thousands of passionate marchers seemed to be intuitively given easy passage.
Mid-afternoon, back at Grand Central Station, long lines were forming at the several public bathrooms. Seemingly spontaneously, the men’s rooms became all gender accessible as lines split into those needing urinals and those needing stalls. Inside, men, women and children respectfully made use of what they needed, washed up and headed back out, either to return to the throngs of marchers or to make their way to trains, to head home.